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Breaking news: If you’re not yet using a body lotion on the regular, you definitely should be. While it may seem like a skippable step in your routine (particularly on busy days), it’s imperative for keeping the skin below your chin healthy and hydrated. And yes, of course, lotion’s main purpose is to moisturize, but many of today’s iterations go above and beyond the call of duty, offering many other skincare benefits. Here’s the best part—you don’t have to shell out big bucks for an amazing body lotion because there’s a litany of ah-mazing options found at the drugstore.
Exhibit A: the best drugstore body lotions below that we can’t get enough of. Keep reading to find out more about the formulas we love, and why we're obsessed with them.
Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Daily Repair Moisturizing Body Lotion
Shea butter and glycerin are only two of the heavy-hitting hydrators in this formula, one of our daily go-tos. It works by replenishing essential lipids (aka fats) in the skin, yet despite how moisturizing it is, this lotion is shockingly lightweight and absorbs into skin without any tacky or greasy residue. It smells naturally clean and fresh but it's technically fragrance-free, so it's a good pick for those with sensitive skin.
Best Multi-Tasker: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Byrdie Senior Editor Hallie Gould loves this do-it-all drugstore standout. It touts three different ceramides, essential ingredients for maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier (the secret to keeping natural moisture locked in and irritants out), not to mention hydrating hyaluronic acid. Another great pick for sensitive skin, it’s oil- and fragrance-free, and it is also non-comedogenic, which is part of the reason why it is great not only for the body but also for the face. It also works perfectly as a hand cream.
Best Budget: St. Ives Rose & Argan Body Lotion
To be fair, all of these options are wallet-friendly (that’s the beauty of shopping at the drugstore, after all), but this one really takes the cake, costing only a few dollars. It’s a favorite of Byrdie Social Media Editor Star Donaldson and delivers the perfect amount of non-greasy hydration, thanks to a trifecta of coconut oil, glycerin, and argan oil. The rose fragrance is also a winner, especially for those who prefer their lotion scented.
Best Brightening: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Illuminating Body Lotion
Reach for this lotion whenever skin is starting to look a little blah (e.g., in the dead of winter). No, it’s not packed with shimmer; instead, it relies on a mushroom extract that both brightens and evens out skin tone with continued use. Plus, the moisturizing shea butter and coconut oil base will instantly make skin appear more radiant.
Best Firming: Jergens Natural Glow Firming Moisturizer
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the hard truth of the matter is there’s no magic cream that will eliminate cellulite. That being said, topical lotions can help by creating the look of firmer, smoother skin. Enter this formula, which boasts collagen, elastin, and ginseng to do just that—not to mention it’s also a gradual self-tanner. Available in two shades, it delivers a subtle hint of color that gradually builds up with daily use. (And FYI, self-tanner is another one of the best ways to camo the look of cellulite.)
Best Lightweight: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Lotion Gel Cream
It can admittedly be easier to want to moisturize during the dead of winter—much less so in the middle of summer when you constantly feel sweaty and sticky. That’s where this pick comes up huge. Because it’s a water-based gel, it absorbs lightning-fast and feels innately cooling going on, even more so if you follow our lead and stash it in the fridge. However, because it’s packed with hyaluronic acid, it still imparts plenty of much-needed hydration, even though it basically disappears on contact.
Best Ointment: Aquaphor Healing Ointment
When it’s not just run-of-the-mill dryness you’re dealing with, but serious cracked, chapped skin—think on your elbows or heels—a regular ol’ lotion won’t cut it. You need to bust out the big guns in the form of a thick balm or ointment, like this cult classic. The petrolatum-based formula creates a protective seal on the skin, ideal for helping heal the driest of dry spots.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy Oat Cream
As a general rule of thumb, moisturizing is essential for sensitive skin; it’s the easiest way to help restore that aforementioned skin barrier, which helps keep irritants out. This newbie not only does that, but it’s also packed with a high concentration of prebiotic-rich soothing oats, aloe, and pro-vitamin B5. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, an absolute non-negotiable for sensitive skin.
Best Post-Sun: Banana Boat Moisturizing Aloe After Sun Lotion
So here’s the thing: You really should be staying out of the sun and religiously using sunscreen. It’s that simple. That being said, we know that getting too much sun happens to the best of us. When that happens, and your skin is in need of a little extra TLC, Senior Editorial Director of Commerce Dwyer Frame recommends reaching for this lotion. Not only will it add back much-needed moisture to your parched skin, but it’s also chock-full of soothing aloe vera to help counteract the effects of damaging rays.
Best In-Shower: Nivea In-Shower Nourishing Body Lotion
One easy way to make moisturizing a daily habit? Opt for this guy, which you can use while you’re still in the shower. How it works: Post-washing, apply this lotion all over, then rinse off and towel-dry as normal. Yes, rinse off. The water-activated formula is meant to be used on wet skin, and leaves you skin feeling silky smooth, without even a trace of residue. Why didn’t we think of that?
Best for Eczema: Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream Full Body Lotion for Eczema-Prone Skin Oz Tube, Exclusive, Fragrance Free, 8 Ounce
For those dealing with pesky (and uncomfortable) eczema flares, this option is a solid choice. Totally steroid-free, it instead relies on colloidal oatmeal to calm red, itchy patches as well as skin-strengthening ceramides and soothing licorice root extract. It also works to reduce the incidence of future flare-ups and it's a product the whole fam can use—even newborn babies.
Best Spray: Cetaphil Sheer Hydration Body Spray Moisturizer
For those who really don’t like lotion and/or are always pressed for time, a spray formula, like this one, is the perfect alternative. The hyaluronic-acid-based spritz imparts plenty of sheer hydration, just enough to moisturize skin, while still being light enough so you can get dressed immediately after. (We’re talking spray this on and slip right into your leather leggings.) Bonus points for the subtle yet refreshing scent.
What to Look for in a Body Lotion
If the ingredient list on your body lotion boasts elements like butters, ceramides, peptides, or hydrating oils, trust that it will put in the work to give your skin some serious moisture. Some great nourishing ingredients to look out for include jojoba oil, shea butter, coconut oil, and glycerin.
According to dermatologist Ife Rodney, MD, humectants are a key component to any body lotion. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin help to draw moisture from the air into your skin, sealing it in without a heavy, weighty texture.
Rodney notes that gentle chemical exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids and urea are another great addition to a body lotion, particularly for those with very dry skin.
What's the difference between a body lotion and a body cream?
According to Rodney, creams are a thicker consistency and have a higher concentration of hydrating ingredients. Lotions, on the other hand, have higher amounts of water and have a lighter consistency.
How often should I use body lotion?
You can feel free to use your body lotion as often as every day, ideally when you're just out of the shower to help your skin retain moisture. Simply use a towel to dab off excess water, and while your skin is still slightly damp, spread a layer of body lotion over the top.
Should my body lotion contain SPF?
Using a lotion with SPF offers the one-two punch of hydrating your skin and protecting it from harmful UVA/UVB rays. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marie Hayag told us it's important to find a broad-spectrum lotion with as high an SPF as you can find, and to apply it liberally: “a shot glass amount is ideal for your body, and it should be applied every two hours, especially if you’re outdoors.”